Aardvark is a small mammal that looks like a pig. They live south of the Sahara in Africa in a variety of different places. Most of the time, they live alone. Moreover, they sleep in underground burrows during the daytime to avoid the heat of the African sun. In the evening, when it’s cooler, they come out to look for food.
Their name comes from the Afrikaans language of South Africa and means “Earth Pig.” This is because they have a long snout and a body like a pig. Aardvarks are one of a kind among animals because they are the only ones left in their family.
Until recently, people thought they mostly relate to other animals that eat insects, like armadillos and pangolins. However, elephants are now their closest living relatives.
Facts About An Aardvark
Aardvarks use their long, sticky tongues to get up to 50,000 insects a night from termite mounds or underground ant nests. Their tongues, which look like worms, can grow up to 30 cm long, which lets them reach more termites deeper in the mound. Aardvarks are also called Antbears because they like to eat bugs.
It’s also thought that aardvarks get almost all the water they need from their prey, so they don’t need to drink much water, as you might think. Aardvarks are one of the best diggers in the world. Their strong limbs, claws, and shovel-like feet help them move 2 feet of soil in just 15 seconds!
How Does An Aardvark Look Like?
So, what is an aardvark? Aardvarks are one of a kind among mammals and even among all animals because they look like a mix of several different species. Aadvark is about the size of a pig, has almost no hair on their bodies, and has long snouts that make them look like a pig at first glance.
Their thick skin protects them from the hot sun and insect bites. They have the ability to close their nostrils to stop dust & bugs from getting into their noses. They have long ears that look like rabbit ears and can stand up or lay flat to keep dirt from getting in when they lie underground. Aardvarks possess strong claws on each of their spade-shaped feet.
This, along with the fact that their back legs are longer than their front legs, makes them strong and capable diggers who can dig up huge earth masses at an alarming rate. Since they love spending most of their lives underground or hunting at night, they have poor eyesight. However, they can easily find food and sense danger using their excellent smell.
Where Are Aardvarks Found?
Aardvarks live in many different kinds of places across sub-Saharan Africa, from dry deserts to wet rainforests. The only requirement is that they have good soil to dig their large burrows in. Other than that, they just need plenty of food and water.
Even though aardvarks are very good at digging in sandy or clay soil, it is harder for them to make their underground homes in rockier areas, so they move to a place where the soil is better for digging.
Their burrows can be up to 10 metres (33 feet) long, and their home range can be between 2 and 5 km2. Their burrows often have more than one entrance, and they always go in head first. This way, they can use their strong sense of smell to find potential threats quickly.
Most aardvarks live alone and only get together to mate. They are never found in big groups. Since they live in underground burrows, thus it protects them from the hot sun and from animals that might try to eat them.
Aardvarks are nocturnal mammals, meaning they only leave their burrow’s safety at night to look for food and water. They often travel several miles to find the biggest termite mounds, using their excellent hearing and sense of smell to find their way.
Even though aardvarks often have a large burrow with a large network of tunnels, they are also known to be able to quickly dig out small temporary burrows where they can hide and stay safe without having to go back to their main home.
Every year, there are certain times when aardvarks can mate. Depending on where an aarvark lives, it gives birth to young ones between October and November or May and June. Most years, female aardvarks have one baby after a pregnancy that lasts about 7 months.
Aardvark babies often weigh less than 2 kg and have pink skin and no hair when they are born in the safety of their mother’s burrow. Aardvark babies stay in their underground burrows for the first two weeks of their lives. Then, at night, they follow their mother out into the world.
But even though they go with their mother to find food, they don’t start eating solid food until they are about 3 months old. Aardvark babies stay in their mother’s burrow until they are about six months old when they leave to dig their own burrow. It’s unclear how long aardvarks live in the wild, but they tend to live in captivity for more than 20 years.
What Do Aardvarks Eat?
Ants and termites make up most of an aardvark’s diet, with termites being their favourite food. Even so, they eat other insects like beetles and the young of other insects. Aardvarks are made to eat insects.
They have strong legs and claws that can easily break through the tough outer shell of termite mounds. Once they break into the mound, they use their long, sticky tongues to catch the insects inside. They eat the insects without chewing because their strong stomachs grind them up.
One of the things that makes an aardvark stand out is that it has columnar cheek teeth that don’t do anything at all. When bigger ant species need to chew, they use the teeth in the back of their mouths (incisors). Aardvarks can also use the same tricks to get into underground ant nests.
Even though aardvarks are nocturnal (active during the night) that live in underground burrows, they are in danger from many different predators in their natural environment. The main predators of aardvarks are lions, leopards, hyenas, and large snakes, especially pythons. However, this depends on where the aardvark lives.
Their main defence is that they can run away very quickly underground. However, when larger animals threaten them, they can also be very aggressive. Aardvarks try to hurt their attackers by using their strong, sharp claws and kicking them with their strong back legs. People also are a great threat to aardvarks because they kill them for food and destroy their natural habitats.
Aardvark IUCN Status
The IUCN lists aardvarks as a species that is of “Least Concern” today. Even though the number of aardvarks in some countries has definitely gone down, their numbers are stable in others, and they are often found in both protected areas and places where they can live.
They are, however, losing more and more of their homes because of deforestation and the growth of towns and villages. Because they are so hard to find, no one really knows how many of them there are.
Is An Aardvark And An Anteater The Same Thing? Aardvark Vs Anteater?
So, is an anteater an aardvark? Or the other way around, is an aardvark an anteater? An aardvark is a South African mammal with long ears and a long snout that lives in burrows and is active at night. Anteaters are mammals in the suborder Vermilingua. Ants and termites are two of their favourite foods. Aardvarks live in open grasslands, woods, and scrub in Africa.
Is An Aardvark A Rodent?
Aardvarks are mammals that look like they were put together from parts of other animals. An aardvark has a long nose that looks like a pig’s nose. It also has ears that look like rabbit ears and a tail that looks like a kangaroo’s tail. But it has nothing in common with any of those animals. There are aardvarks all over sub-Saharan Africa.
Are Aardvarks Extinct?
No, they are not extinct yet. Aardvarks help people indirectly in places where termites would damage crops. Because they mostly sleep during the day, not much is known about the number of aardvarks, but they are not in danger of going extinct.
Is A Aardvark A Real Animal?
The name “aardvark” comes from a word in South Africa that means “earth pig.” Even though the body and snout of an aardvaark make it look like a pig, aardvarks are related to elephants and golden moles. Most of sub-Saharan Africa is home to aardvarks.
Can An Aardvark Be A Pet?
Pet aardvarks are not the right thing you can expect. Since they are active only at night, they would keep you up for hours. Even more problematic than their size would be their burrowing behaviour, which would make them a nightmare to keep in a backyard. Keeping an aardvark as a pet is frowned upon or even outlawed in many parts of the world.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.